NATURE OF WIRES – Building Reflections

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The latest offering from Nature Of Wires comes in the form of a series of dark ambient pieces apparently conceived on a dreary November day in 2021. It’s a step sideways for Gary Watts’ darkwave pop outfit, particularly on the back of last year’s Out Of My System which employed such emotive and cathartic workouts revolving around Lady bNOW’s lyrical landscapes.

Under most circumstances, it’s quite tough to drum up ambient electronic compositions without sounding like a cheaply Xeroxed version of established classics. At the same time, there’s been more than a spark of ingenuity in some recent releases that have crossed the TEC radar that slot under the ambient and/or tone poem banner. Gnostic Grain’s Ostara, preston.outatime’s Mirror Radius and the Hauntology in UK compilation all employ their own distinctive – and notable – approach to electronic music composition.

Building Reflections is cast in a similar mould; its brooding tones conjuring up an almost musique concrète style that evokes visions of industrial landscapes and desolation. At other times, there’s a strange dreamlike atmosphere lurking at its heart. Opening the album, by way of example, ‘Borealis’ presents a sweeping, majestic affair matched by the unearthly vocal style of Madil Hardis; a beguiling choral that draws the listener in.

Most of the other compositions slot into more of an ambient form of one sort or another. ‘Sines’ is a minimalist affair that’s crafted in strokes of tone and shade. ‘Nautilus’, meanwhile, has a slightly unsettling physicality to it, like some alien landscape that Jóhann Jóhannsson might have dreamt up.

Similarly, the album’s title track has a machine-like rhythm that seems reminiscent of OMD’s ‘Stanlow’ in part. ‘Tube’ treads similar ground, an uneasy presence that seems to get directly under your skin.

There’s a more dreamlike aesthetic present on the glossy ‘Shrooms’, its liquid rhythms shifting the brain into a fugue state. ‘Network’, another composition featuring Madil Hardis, continues along that path with its gauzy, floating moods. It’s also the only track on the album that employs actual lyrics, offering Hardis an opportunity to demonstrate another aspect of her considerable vocal talents.

There are moments that suggest strange lost film soundtrack excerpts, such as the off-kilter ‘Excelsis’. Hints of Vangelis bubble up here and there beneath a piece that revolves around a strange aural invocation that dabbles in anxiety.

Building Reflections offers a dark fever dream of electronic enigmas. It’s an intriguing album that provides something a little different from what you might expect from Nature Of Wires.

Building Reflections is out now: